Former President Donald Trump, two of his sons, and two of his employees were found liable for fraud Tuesday in a case brought by an elected Democrat prosecutor before an elected Democrat judge in a staunchly Democratic city.
Arthur Engoron, an elected civil Justice of the New York County Supreme Court, issued a rare summary judgment that concluded that New York Attorney General Letitia James proved her case before the defense mounted its own.
He went further, sanctioning Trump’s attorneys and fining them $7500 each for filing repeated motions to dismiss that Judge Engoron decided were frivolous, disregarding the expert opinion of a former judge, filed with the court.
The accusations stem from claims made in Congress by Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen — already convicted for lying to Congress — who cooperated with the Democrat-run House of Representatives in persecuting Trump.
Cohen alleged that Trump inflated the values of his real estate properties — which are estimates, in any case — in obtaining real estate loans from banks against those properties.
The judge agreed, ignoring the fact that the banks almost certainly did their own due diligence investigations before making those loans, and disregarding the fact that no bank lost money on the loans. It did not matter that there was no injured party; exaggeration itself was enough.
Numerous critics pointed out the apparent absurdity of the judge’s claim that Trump overestimated the value of his Mar-a-Lago estate.
JUST IN – A New York judge ruled that Trump inflated his property values, including Mar-a-Lago, which the judge determined was worth $18-$27 million from 2011 to 2021.
To put this into perspective, neighboring homes on 0.28-0.89 acres are listed for $18-40 million.
— KanekoaTheGreat (@KanekoaTheGreat) September 27, 2023
The judge relied on an estimate of the Palm Beach County assessor, without considering the assessments of neighboring properties in comparison, and while disregarding expert opinion that put the value of Mar-a-Lago at over $1 billion. (Trump’s own estimate of the estate’s market value is up to $612 million.)
One of Trump’s sons, Eric, claimed in response to the ruling that the judge had sought to punish family members who had nothing to do with valuations: “The only reason I am collateral damage is because my last name is Trump.”
In 2018, when James was elected, the Washington Post noted that she had run on promises to punish Trump. And while other Democrats in other states had done the same, New York was the “most important” jurisdiction.
According to Judge Engoron’s ruling in the case, which seeks $250 million in civil damages, Trump and his company will have to give up the legal certificates that allowed them to do business in the state, and disgorge profits from his real estate transactions.
Cohen predicted that Engoron would, after a trial on the remaining issues, decide that damages would be $600 million, forcing Trump into bankruptcy — a prospect that he, and other Trump foes, have relished.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the new biography, Rhoda: ‘Comrade Kadalie, You Are Out of Order’. He is also the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.